Smart meters: revolutionising electricity supply

2 August 2017

Smart meters are being touted as one of the biggest developments in electricity supply since we first started using electric lights more than a century ago, but what are they?

Put simply, a smart meter is a digital meter located at your home or business that measures the amount of electricity used virtually in real-time.

Unlike a traditional electricity meter, a smart meter digitally reads and stores the electricity usage over short intervals, typically every 30 minutes, and then remotely sends this information to energy distributors and retailers every day. Smart meters allow two-way communication between the meter and the central system.

The energy retailer can then pass this information on to the consumer, providing some real-time energy data to inform their energy usage. 

Smart meter technology will help you to remotely switch off your appliances before you arrive home so your house can be cool in summer and warm in winter. 

So what makes smart meters so smart?

Smart meters are a game-changer. They have the potential to change the relationship we have with energy.

No longer is it a passive relationship in which a consumer gets their quarterly bill after they’ve used the energy. It can now be an active relationship in which the consumer can access almost real-time information generated by their smart meter about their energy consumption and better understand their usage.

Smart meters offer many options and capabilities that are not possible with traditional meters; remote connection when you move house, and improved fault detection to help networks restore power more quickly after an outage, make them revolutionary. 

The potential is amplified when smart meters are combined with other emerging digital technology in the electricity grid, creating what is sometimes referred to as a smart grid. Being able to remotely turn on your appliances so your home is warm and welcoming when you arrive was once only the stuff of sci-fi. Now it’s reality.

Do I have a smart meter? If not, how can I get one?

If you’re located in Victoria, you may already have a smart meter.  If a smart meter has been installed, you would have received an introductory letter from your distribution company with a scheduled installation time and once installed, an information pack helping you understand how to read your new meter. You can also tell by checking out your meter, if the display is digital, it’s a smart meter.  You can find out more about this program here.

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